Anna Estrada – Obsesión (Feral Flight Productions 2009)

When Elis Regina died, most Brasilians thought that the vacuum created by her loss could not be filled. Then along came Rosa Passos… and Anna Estrada. The two vocalists do not jostle for position in the vacant slot that Regina left behind. However, both fill it individually with the extraordinary breath and scope of their talent. Passos stays within the Brasilian ethos more often than not [...]

Kristina – Offshore Echoes (Patois Records 2009)

A female vocalist with a low vocal spectrum is not supposed to sound as joyful as Kristina does on Offshore Echoes. And she sounds joyful no matter what she sings. Many singers would sound solemn. However, Kristina, being the wonderful practitioner of the vocal arts that she is gives a fine account of herself. Not only is she a versatile vocalist [...]

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira – Bim Bom (Motema Music 2009)

João Gilberto did not just epitomize bossa nova, "The New Thing" that he virtually invented, but he also brought his new laconic vocalastic style to Brasilian music. So deeply passionate and idiosyncratic was his annunciation and intonation that he could wail and groan with equal lyricism. Pitch did not seem to matter as the mood and passion of the emotion often took [...]

Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge – Off & On: The Music of Moacir...

If ever a record could be likened to a comet streaking across the musical stratosphere and a long time coming at that, this one...

Sofia Tosello: Alma y Luna

There is a story that bears telling about Brasilian musician and multi-instrumentalist, Egberto Gismonti and his legendary teacher, Nadia Boulanger. Upon hearing him and evaluating his technique and his knowledge of harmonic devices, the story goes that Madame Boulanger said to Gismonti, “Go back and master the music of your country. This will unlock your voice and the world [...]
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet - Bien Bien

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien!

The music with clave that began with Machito's "Tanga," and George Russell's "Cubana-Be Cubana-Bop" has come a long way. With clave in his soul, trombonist Wayne Wallace proves yet again on his record Bien Bien! that the cheer of the music is truly infectious. Wallace is rare among musicians who can "swing" as well as he can "clave." He has that and all kinds of shuffle [...]

Emir Ersoy – Cuban Portrait (SFW Records 2009)

It should not, but it takes a several fleeting moments to get used to the idea that Cuban Portrait is a record by an accomplished Turkish pianist and musician, Emir Ersoy, who is partnered by other Turkish musicians. It should not and happily, these feelings fade away completely after the last three songs are heard. For the record, though, here is a thought [...]

Tom Lellis & the Metropole Orch. – Skylark (Adventure Music 2009)

On Skylark, Tom Lellis celebrates the grand age of singers and song. This was probably not his intention at all, but fortunately, it also turned out that way. Lellis is a fine singer, fashioned from quite the classic mould of singers – like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Barry Manilow. He is a narrative singer and as some of the best storytellers go, he has a wonderful intonation [...]
Samuel Quinto Trio - Salsa N Jazz

Samuel Quinto Trio: Salsa’ N Jazz

There is something about this new Brasilian-born pianist, Samuel Quinto that strikes a vibrant chord in the inner ear. Perhaps it has to do with his wonderful grasp of the joy that abounds in the Brasilian northeast… his sense of “alegria.” Perhaps it also has to do with his mature approach, wonderful use of dynamics, his expression and his innate ability to allow the tonal center of his music [...]

Poncho Sanchez: Psychedelic Blues

Few Latin ensembles have continued to play with such elegance, swagger and irresistible sensuality as those put together by Poncho Sanchez for decades. The leader’s ability to wrap his chops around the blues, and keep swing and clave together with attractive simplicity is now quite legendary. At times Sanchez can also blend his bubbling Latin repertoire with forays into a [...]

Daniel Santiago – Metropole (Adventure Music 2009)

Daniel Santiago comes from a long and continuing line of renowned Brasilian guitarists. He has a lively and probing mind and the language of his guitar resonates with sparkling phrases, unusual syntax and an almost full-formed musical ideology. On Metropole, a thoughtful, questioning record, Santiago employs the distinct nature of being “Brasileiro” to explore his environment [...]

Benjamim Taubkin – Trio + 1 (Adventure Music 2009)

In music – even in a zone of sublime comfort – a small, unexpected ripple can distrub the ebb and flow of the wave, or groove thereby upsetting the complete sense and flow of the ocean of sound. This happens all the time, and can even stop and start a song in the middle of the first bar. That magical pulse must be felt even before the song begins. If it does not snap in the air [...]

Mark Weinstein/Omar Sosa – Tales from the Earth (2009)

Tales from the Earth by flutist, Mark Weinstein and pianist and vibraphonist Omar Sosa is one of the most extraordinary musical expeditions in a long time. The need for a subscript is not necessary. The extraordinary depth and ethereal beauty of the music would suffice. Nevertheless, one that subscript becomes evident then the music touches parts of the body that much music might not [...]

Corina Bartra & Azu Project: Afro Peruvian Jazz Celebration

The rise of smaller record labels and independent music producers has made a significant contribution to the number of musicians from other parts pf the world getting not just radioplay, but - in the case of important new artists - the recognition they deserve. Some of the fine musicians to come out of Peru recently have been Gabriel Alegria, Yuri Juarez, Hugo Alcazar and Corina Bartra [...]

Emilio Teubal and La Balteuband – Un Monton de Notas (2009)

The spectacular collision of cultures raining down of music in the Latin idiom has brought with it a proverbial deluge of the most wonderful shower of metaphor and idiom, melody and rhythm and harmonics of a tantalizingly high order. This fine record Un Monton de Notas by Emilio Teubal and his grupo projecto, La Balteuband is another fine example [...]

Rebecca Cline & Hilary Noble (Enclave) – Diaspora (2008)

In Diaspora, the quartet, Enclave, comprising the pianist Rebecca Cline, saxophonist and flutist, Hilary Noble, bassist, Fernando Huergo and percussionist, Steve Langone have a wonderful follow up to their eponymously titled first record. Cline and Noble specifically appear to be in good company – with the likes of Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, as a serious musical duo [...]

Fito Garcia – Mi Bajo Rumbero (Garra Music – 2009)

Fito Garcia has taken a small albeit bold step with the making of this record, Mi Bajo Rumbero. There is a sincere attempt to explore the harmonics of the bass as a critical voice in the creation of music. The German bassist, Eberhard Weber made a memorable record in this vein several years ago and on Pendulum (ECM, 1993). Weber did just that: using ingenious electronics and live playing [...]

Antonio Valdetaro & Group – Letícia (Independent, Brasil 2009)

What stands out immediately about this record Letícia is the ebullient mood that is struck with the first few notes of “Segura e Sai.” From then on the music gets busier but retains its sense of “alegria.” A warning, however: it pays not to me misled by the nature of the tracks that flow one after the other. Valdetaro and his group do a fine job of masking the true complexity of the songs [...]

Yuri Juarez: Afroperuano

It may not happen from the first note, but soon the music on Afroperuano begins to magically evoke the sound of the wind rushing...

Hamlet & his Latin Jazz Experience – Descarumbiando (2009)

The Latin Jazz wave is old hat. There are too many hangers-on; too many copy cats and not enough original thinking musicians. But in contrast, the serious craftsmen and women are getting more skilled and penetrating the soul of the Latin ethos – some even growing something akin to “mi Alma Latina” actually. And, of course jazz is today’s “classical” music [...]

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